Echinacea species is one of the most important 'immune' herbs we know. Having been widely used, studied & researched it's a key player in any Apothecary and for home use.
Confusion sometimes arises from the slight variation in the three main species and there are of course many misconceptions regarding efficacy & safety. However the main products (from reliable sources) available in the UK are taken from the root & rhizome of angustifolia or purpurea species, both of which are safe & reliable immune supporting agents. The term supporting is used to indicate the enhancing influences of a plant medicine, rather than an unlimited & controlling action.
In the case of echinacea we're looking at its influence on the innate immune system, where it can prime certain immune cells to have a faster response when needed, whilst also having a modulating effect on overstimulated cells. In other words, it can help the immune system work more effectively when needed rather that switching it on to full pelt and additionally being able to tone down excess. This enhancement gives us increased anti viral, anti bacterial and anti inflammatory actions when a pathogen is not killed off by our barrier immunity.
Clinically it's used extensively for prevention & treatment of upper respiratory infections. The wider ranging action of using whole plant medicine rather than using or replicating isolated compounds has also been shown to be useful in autoimmune disorders, protozoal infections, allergies, septicaemia, and skin conditions. I would also consider using it during convalescence if the person was depleted.
For a preventative use the dose is lower and can usually be found on over the counter dosage instructions, apothecary instructions and will vary according to dried or liquid products. During active infections the dose given is higher and this can be sustained for short term acute conditions, especially under supervision of an experienced herbalist.
As with any herbal product you should seek advice about specific doses if you're unsure & always consult a herbalist if you have complex health issues. That said, echinacea is an extremely safe herb which can be used by children and adults.
Please enquire directly if you would like further advice or for echinacea single or combination products stocked at The Foxglove Apothecary.
I want to share what I know about natural medicine with you. I also love stories and articles about food and nature so in this blog I will be looking at all these subjects and how they come together in our daily lives.